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Theatre ghosts approve Vernon cinema renovations

Historic – and haunted – Towne Theatre on 30th Avenue reopens May 16 following seven-week shutdown
Vernon Towne Theatre operations manager Rebekah Beck (left) and executive director Robyn Thurston invite people to come check out the newly renovated auditorium, as the cinema reopens after seven weeks with a showing of the first-run family movie, IF. There will be five showings daily Friday to Monday, May 17-20. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

The ghosts in the glorious historic downtown Vernon theatre have given their approval to renovations made inside the old girl.

No chocolate bars – well, actually, a specific brand of bar – have been thrown out of their concession stall as seven weeks of revamping the Towne Theatre on 30th Avenue draw to a close.

“The ghosts don’t seem to be angry. They appreciate the upgrades,” smiled Robyn Thurston, executive director of the Towne after managing director of the Okanagan Screen Arts Society.

Scott John shared a story of being alone in his office at the theatre one night, and a chocolate bar went flying onto the floor.

“The ghosts know we love the space as much as they do.”

Besides the concession, the women’s washroom, an upstairs storage space, and the projection booth are said to be well-visited by apparitions.

None of those spaces, however, were touched during the recent seven-week theatre closure which saw the auditorium completely revamped and cleaned.

Walls were taken down. New sound baffling was put up. A new curtain is hoped to be in place by opening night Thursday, May 16. The auditorium has been repainted. There’s a new system for live acts and for the cinema side of the Towne, which opened as a dance hall in 1929, and was converted to a theatre in 1938.

“This is going to be a pretty dynamic space,” said Thurston, adding the theatre will be announcing its summer concert series with some “big name” acts on Friday. “It’s going to be in 7.1 Dolby Surround Sound. I’ve already heard it. It’s fantastic.”

Old surround sound speakers from the 1960s were found behind the wall fabric as renovations were being carried out.

The re-opening event Thursday is a preview night of the movie IF, which is sold-out. IF, starring Ryan Reynolds, Emily Blunt, and Steve Carell, is the story of a young girl who goes through a difficult experience, but then begins to see everyone’s imaginary friends who have been left behind as their real-life friends have grown up.

IF will run for two weeks straight at the Towne, and that includes five showings a day all long weekend.

“We are excited to host everybody again,” said Thurston.

Getting a first-release movie like IF is, well, a first for the Towne Theatre. As an independent theatre, they are not allowed to receive first-run movies.

“The big chain theatres always get them. We find out Mondays what’s left over that we can get,” said John. “This is the first time ever an indie theatre has been allowed to get a first-run movie Canada-wide. We asked for a chance to compete on a level playing field.

“We’re super excited and hope to get a bunch of people in the seats.”

More information and theatre show times can be found at

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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